On January 13, Osaka Prefectural Police arrested Shizu Maeda, 55, the proprietor of Koko, and a female employee on suspicion of soliciting prostitution.
The suspects, who have admitted to the charges, allegedly provided two women, aged in their 20s and 30s, to male customers inside the premises in November.
Given the area’s standing in the commercial sex trade, the bust is sending shock waves through the district and beyond over a potential full-blown crackdown on prostitution across the city, according to Tokyo Sports (Jan. 15).
Some fellow operators in the area were surprised to hear about the arrests, saying they knew nothing about pimping. “There didn’t seem to be too many young girls in their 20s,” one said, referring to Koko.
Koko has been licensed as a so-called “restaurant” since January 2013. But, as with other businesses in the area, conventional food is not on the menu. Customers select women on the spot at a rate of 10,000 yen for the first 20 minutes.
Sources close to the investigation said they began the probe after receiving a tip that pandering was going on in the area. The restaurant had been identified after questioning male customers who were believed to have stopped by Koko.
“There were police on patrol at the end of the year, but it’s scary because we hadn’t heard about arrests or anything lately,” another person working in the area says. “It wouldn’t be good for men if these types of places got reduced in number, would it?”
Patrons can access Matsushima Shinchi via Kujo Station, which is on the Chuo subway and Hanshin Namba rail lines. While it is smaller than Tobita Shinchi, some 90 shops operate their respective businesses in the area, and its lower prices seem to appeal to no small number of patrons.
The arrests by Osaka police were not the first in Matsushima Shinchi — not by a long shot. In 2013, a sweep of red-light areas in Osaka began in Matsushima Shinchi. The most recent arrests were this past April.
However, a citywide cleanup by law enforcement seems unlikely, considering third parties are not welcome behind closed doors.
As such, an investigator tells Tokyo Sports that it is difficult to be at the scene at the time of an incident. “We will proceed in a matter-of-fact manner if we can obtain information and are able to substantiate the facts,” the investigator says.
Source: “Osaka Matsushima Shinchi de baishun tekihatsu kongo no joka sakusen do naru?” Tokyo Sports (Jan. 15)